The Fernandina Beach Rotary Club recently welcomed Damon Olinto, president and CEO of Synovus Bank’s Jacksonville Division, as a guest speaker. Olinto was a driving force behind the organization of the Jacksonville division of the Georgia-chartered regional bank, which now has six branches in Duval and Nassau Counties. He discussed the causes of the banking meltdown, saying poor mortgage-lending practices throughout the industry resulted in huge losses of revenue and the freezing of funds among financial institutions. While the federal government’s Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) has helped money to flow freely among banks again, it also resulted in more stringent oversight of lending practices. Implementation of such requirements as the Fair Credit Act have meant a reduction in revenue for banks while increasing the cost of doing business. Many banks, including Synovus, have been forced to streamline their operations by consolidating services. Olinto said that was the case with Synovus’ local branch, First Coast Community Bank (FCCB.) In an effort to reduce a duplication of services and cut expenses, Synovus moved all of its business loan operations to its Atlanta office and closed that department at FCCB. He stressed, however, that FCCB remains a local bank with its own president and board as well as the same commitment to community service and involvement it has always had.